UPDATE | May 15
Round Rock ISD Superintendent Steve Flores shared additional information about plans for the 2020-21 academic year on May 15.
"We have been operating in crisis mode because that is what we’ve faced," Flores said. "But as the calendar turns, it gives us the opportunity to be strategic, to evaluate scenarios, and to be ready for whatever the future brings."
The district is assembling a Fall 2020 Planning Task Force with individuals from campus administration, operations, human resources, curriculum, assessment, special education, technology and other district departments.
The task force will be composed of five committees. A safety and operations committee will evaluate what the district would need to potentially be able to use physical facilities in the fall. The human resources and legal committee will discuss expectations and rights of district personnel. A curriculum and instruction committee will develop ideas on supporting in-person and virtual teaching and learning options. The student support services committee will evaluate services such as counseling, behavioral and mental health support. A professional development committee will discuss training needs for staff.
Flores said the district will reach out to teachers, staff and the RRISD community for "input and direction on priorities" as the task force shores up recommendations for fall 2020.
"The safety of our students and staff will continue to be our top priority," he said.
With safety in mind, Flores reiterated that he has no plans to recommend an earlier start date than Aug. 20 for the 2020-21 school year.
"While I will tell you that nothing is concrete in these uncertain times, I have no plans to recommend altering the start date for the upcoming year," he said. "Given where we are in this pandemic and the fact that there is not a vaccine in our near future, I am doubtful that bringing students and staff back to campus earlier than our scheduled first day of school, August 20, would be our best course of action."
Flores said the district expects at this time to take a hybrid approach to education for the fall. A mixture of virtual and in-person learning options would allow for "social distancing that is necessary to keep our community safe and healthy," he said.
"My greatest hope [...] is that we all return to our campuses on Aug. 20 and resume school as we’ve known it," Flores said. "But we all know that we are living in a new normal, and I fear my greatest hope is unlikely to be realized.
ORIGINAL STORY | May 14
In light of the coronavirus crisis disrupting K-12 education this spring, the Texas Education Agency on May 7 issued guidelines for adjustments to the 2020-21 academic calendar. However, Round Rock ISD Superintendent Steve Flores said May 14 that the district does not plan to alter the school calendar at this time.
“Right now, we’re not talking about an extension of the calendar,” Flores said. “Extensive discussions would have to occur. We will be as flexible as possible, but at this point, that’s not something that we’re looking at.”
Among TEA’s recommendations is the concept of an intersessional calendar, where longer breaks are scheduled throughout the school year. Such changes involve a host of other implications: earlier start dates, remote learning sessions, and six-week breaks interspersed throughout the year.
“I think Aug. 20 is our steadfast date,” Flores said. “For us to try to start any earlier would be very problematic.”
Should districts select a modified school year as proposed by TEA, students could see an increase of up to 30 days, continuing into the summer in an effort to minimize seasonal learning loss.
The TEA guidelines are meant to serve as a framework, and individual districts have the final say over instructional calendars. Any changes would require board approval.
Trustee Chad Chadwell voiced concerns with an August start date during a May 14 board meeting. He said he does not believe RRISD will be able to resume “in the standard sense” until later in the fall.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of modifications [to the school calendar], based on what I’m reading in the news,” Chadwell said. “We don’t know what’s going on. There’s too many variables.”
View the 2020-21 academic calendar here.
Amy Rae Dadamo contributed to this report.
UPDATED: Round Rock ISD Superintendent: No plans to start 2020-21 academic year early
Round Rock ISD plans to start the 2020-21 academic year on Aug. 20 and follow the originally-approved school calendar at this time. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)